Robert Philpot, Star-Telegram Staff Writer
DALLAS -- Ghosts haunted the American Airlines Center on Friday night.
But not just the ghosts you'd expect at a Who concert -- the band's late drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle.
Also, there were the ghosts of the two long-departed members of the opening act, The Pretenders; of the artists (from Beethoven to Buddy Holly) name-dropped in the new song Mirror Door; and of Elvis, who got his own tribute.
There was also the ghost of The Who's own past. The once essential band is trying to prove it's essential again, including new material in its concerts for the first time in decades. And Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, backed by musicians who don't make you forget Moon and Entwistle but don't tarnish their memory, did everything in their power to exorcise those ghosts.
Veteran bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Zak Starkey, Ringo's son, stepped in. Simon Townshend, Pete's brother, was a welcome addition on backup vocals and guitar.
Ultimately, Daltrey and Pete Townshend cast out the ghosts with their own power, and a walloping pre-encore finale combining My Generation, an almost unrecognizable Cry If You Want and Won't Get Fooled Again.
Is it silly for men eligible for senior discounts to sing about teenage wastelands and hoping that they die before they get old? Not if they still have the blood-curdling power of Daltrey's voice (it's likely everyone in the arena got chills when he screamed his famous YeeeeeeAAAAAHHHHH!!!) or the sonic punch of Townshend's guitar, with all his windmilling and jumping accompanying Daltrey's microphone-twirling.
The new stuff is good, too, although I haven't quite warmed to the mini-opera Wire and Glass. Fragments and A Man in a Purple Dress, the latter a vitriolic attack on religious hypocrisy, held the crowd's attention. But the big Who songs held the crowd in rapture.
The Pretenders opened to a crowd too small for a band with so many great songs. Chrissie Hynde was in good form, but guitarist Adam Seymour was the showstopper, especially with his screaming solos on Ohio.